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The Bakken is in decline, the Torquay is on the rise in Sask.

Saskatchewan Bakken peaked at 65,000 bpd
Melinda Yurkowski

Regina– “2016 was a pretty lean year,” said Melinda Yurkowski, Saskatchewan’s assistant chief geologist with the Ministry of Environment, when she provided the Saskatchewan update to the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference on May 3.

There were 1,650 wells drilled in Saskatchewan, slightly less than the 1838 in 2015. “The very good news is we’ve seen an increase in drilling in 2017,” she said. By March 31, there were 856 wells drilled in Saskatchewan, of which 723 were horizontal. That’s over double the pace of the previous year for the same time period.

She noted that the Petroleum Services Association of Canada recently revised its forecast to 2,670 wells for this year.

Almost 90 per cent of wells drilled in Saskatchewan are horizontal now. The average length in 2016 was about 2,100 metres, a slight increase from the year before.

In 2016, there were a total of 52,786 active oil and gas wells, 31,022 inactive wells, and 425 abandoned wells. In 2015, there were 55,247 active wells, 27,614 wells and 958 abandoned wells.

Oil production is down from a peak in 2014. Production in 2016 was about 460,000 bpd, compared to 486,000 bpd in 2015. Light oil was about 38 per cent of production, medium oil was about 21 per cent, and heavy oil was about 41 per cent.

In 2013, associated gas surpassed non-associated gas production. Non-associated natural gas production has continued to decline from a peak of approximately 270 billion cubic feet in 2006 to about 67 billion cubic feet in 2016. However, associated gas production has increased. Associated gas production was 123 billion cubic feet in 2016.

The Viking formation is, again, the major focus of drilling in the province,” Yurkowski said. Prior to the horizontal drilling rush, it was producing about 8,000 bpd from about 8,000 vertical wells. Since 2007, there’s been over 5,200 horizontal wells drilled in the Viking. Now, in 2016, it produced 53,112 bpd. The Viking accounted for nearly half of all wells drilled in Saskatchewan. They are fairly shallow wells, around 1,000 metres deep, and a high API for their oil.

In southeast Saskatchewan, 529 wells were drilled last year. The Bakken, Torquay and Mississippian formations are the targets.

Roughly 30 per cent of production in southeast Saskatchewan came from the Bakken in 2016. The Bakken produced 45,464 barrels of oil per day, down from about 54,000 bpd in 2015. The high was in 2012, when Bakken production peaked around 65,000 bpd.

The Torquay has two major plays, the Ryerson along the Manitoba border and the Torquay Main and Roche Percee area along the U.S. border. There are about 400 Torquay wells.

Nearly all development is along the U.S. border. About 57 wells were drilled in this area in 2016. Torquay production was 10,238 bpd in 2016.

Land sales brought in $53.5 million in 2016, down from $56.48 million in 2015.